Former Pirates and Braves prospect and current Cincinnati Reds prospect Todd Redmond has been on the radar of prospect evaluators for quite some time; he’s ranked on Baseball America’s top 30 team prospect lists four times, and as early as 2005 with the Pirates, where he ranked nineteenth. Heck, he’s had four full seasons at AAA, never sporting a WHIP above 1.37 or a walk rate over three. Yet he’s been traded twice, both times for spare parts, and he’s never thrown a pitch in the majors. What’s to like?
To me, there’s a lot to like. A 2004 39th round pick out of St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida, Redmond was a draft-and-follow, which allowed teams to take a longer look at players before signing them (Tommy Hanson would be a more recent example); that process has since been removed from the amateur draft all-together. His 2005 scouting report lauds him for a quality fastball and developing secondary pitches, noting that he had a chance to stay in a rotation if his secondary pitches came along. His 2006 scouting report painted a fairly different picture, noting that he had three solid-average pitches (but no out pitches) and plus command. The latter report very much holds true still today.
Redmond’s statistical profile has been remarkably consistent from year-to-year. He’s never walked more than three batters over nine innings, and he’s only twice walked more than 2.5 per nine, once in his 2005 debut in short-season, and once in his first exposure to AAA in 2009. He was essentially age appropriate by level from 2005 – 2009, advancing one level at a time, which is a bit surprising given his advanced command and solid repertoire. The Pirates essentially decided he didn’t have the stuff to advance past Hi-A with success when they traded him for middle-reliever Tyler Yates right before the start of the 2008 season, but he responded with a walk rate below two and a strikeout rate above 7 to go along with a 3.52 ERA over 167 innings at AA Mississippi. Even after that performance, he ranked just 29th on Baseball America’s top 30 list for the Braves.
From 2009 through 2011, at ages 24-26, Redmond put up solid if unremarkable lines at AAA Gwinnett, showing improvement each time he worked on the mound. He struggled a bit in 2009, posting a 4.41 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP and a 6.58 K/9, but he improved those numbers in 2010 and 2011, eventually posting a full-season 2.92 ERA with a 7.53 K/9 in 2011. Still, at age 26 in AAA, he didn’t get a lot of attention for that performance. He’s continued to dominate in 2012, moving his strikeout rate well over eight, and moving his walk rate to under 2.3 per nine. In the midst of dominating AAA, he was traded to the Reds for utility infielder Paul Janish, who Atlanta only needed because Andrelton Simmons and Jack Wilson got hurt, and they do not trust Tyler Pastornicky to be able to field the position adequately. In other words, the Braves valued Redmond at essentially what they gave up (neither a middle-reliever nor a utility infielder have much value in the grand scheme of things), remarkable to me given his consistent performance at AAA over nearly four full seasons.
Personally, I think the Reds have found themselves quite an undervalued commodity. There’s no doubt in my mind that Redmond will pitch in the majors, and in fact, he’s been called up twice by the Reds already but just hasn’t been able to get in a game. He’s consistently struggled with the gopher ball when he leaves his fastball up in the zone, but he reduces the damage considerably by limiting the amount of baserunners he allows due to his command and control. He’s also very similar to some other Reds pitchers who have had major league success (Sam LeCure immediately comes to mind). He’s not necessarily a great fit for Cincinnati’s home park, given that the park is prone to the long ball, but the Reds may combat that by using Redmond in the pen, where his stuff might play up in smaller bursts. He’s not a “sexy” name by any means, but he’s been ignored for quite some time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up a few seasons far better than bigger name prospects are expected to put up in their prime.
For more on the Reds, checkout Blog Red Machine!